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IT was another miserable evening in North London as Arsenal extended their winless run to nine Premier League games.
Freddie Ljungberg's homecoming couldn't have gone much worse as his below-par Gunners were deservedly beaten 2-1 by an energetic, hard-working Brighton.
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FREDDIE LJUNGBERG has sensationally claimed Arsenal players are SCARED after their home reversal against Brighton.
The North Londoners are now on their worst run of form for 42 YEARS and nine games without a win.
Goals from Adam Webster and Neal Maupay either side of Alexandre Lacazette's equaliser saw the Gunners slump to tenth in the Premier League with their fourth defeat of the season.
And speaking after the game, Ljungberg – who replaced sacked Unai Emery last Friday – said: “They look very short on confidence.
“In the first half they were scared to get the ball and a bit scored to move, they were just standing still.
“That's something we need to talk about. They need to have a win, we need to dig out a win and get them some confidence.
“They can do it because they showed it in the beginning of the second half and they did it really well for 20 minutes. It's hard to say that when you lose at home, but they were very good in that little spell.”
ARSENAL made it an astonishing NINE matches without a win as Brighton earned a 2-1 victory at the Emirates.
Adam Webster put the visitors in front ten minutes before half-time before Alexandre Lacazette drew the Gunners level just after the break.
But Neal Maupay glanced a fine header into the far corner to register the Seagulls' first ever win at Arsenal.
<a href="<a href="http://www.itsthea.com/?big=sport/football/10492076/arsenal-player-ratings-leno-highlight-david-luiz-willock-worst-brighton/comments“>”>Here's how SunSport's Rob Maul rated Freddie Ljungberg's men…
MESUT OZIL and Per Mertesacker had a heated exchange as the midfielder left the field after Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Brighton.
The loss means Arsenal are on their worst run of form for 42 YEARS and the German pair were clearly not happy about it.
Goals from Adam Webster and Neal Maupay either side of Alexandre Lacazette's equaliser meant the North Londoners slip to tenth in the table.
And the angry feeling was clearly too much for Ozil as he was seen shouting and gesticulating at his former international and club team-mate.
Mertesacker remained fairly calm throughout the incident and shook Ozil's hand as the two crossed paths on the touchline.
It is unclear exactly what or who Ozil was angry about but he certainly let academy manager Mertesacker know as he skulked off the pitch.
ARSENAL fans were left fuming with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang when he left the field – despite his side chasing a goal against Brighton.
The striker vanished for a few minutes as the Gunners attempted to secure a timely equaliser in front of bemused home supporters.
Gunners caretaker boss Freddie Ljungberg confirmed after the game that Aubameyang needed a toilet break.
The Swede said: “I actually didn’t even notice he went off, I just saw him come back on after he’d been off for a couple of minutes.
“When you need to go, you need to go.”
Aubameyang’s vanishing act also had fans talking.
One wrote: “Aubameyang went to take a dump right?”
Another tweeted: “Did Aubameyang just run to the toilet in the middle of the game which we were losing?”
One noted: “Did Aubameyang go to toilet?”
Another added: “And Aubameyang has just emerged from the tunnel. Toilet break?”
FREDDIE LJUNGERG was just a bump in his mother’s tummy the last time Arsenal failed to win nine in a row.
The Queen was about to celebrate her Silver Jubilee and Sid Vicious had just joined the Sex Pistols when Terry Neill’s team went full Jolly Rotten back in March, 1977.
Now it’s a case of Never Mind the B******* for a Gunners team sleepwalking their way to mid-table mediocrity.
Ljungberg’s promotion to interim manager in place of the hapless Unai Emery last week was supposed to finally restore some much-needed sense of identity and purpose at the Emirates.
But that’s not how things are working out after a crushing defeat which leaves them so far off the top four they need binoculars.
It was Brighton’s 1-1 draw here in May which ultimately cost Arsenal Champions League qualification, but this result will be far more damaging to Ljungberg’s hopes of getting the job on a permanent basis.
The Swede had claimed after Sunday’s 2-2 draw that it was easy to identify the problems besetting the players he inherited from Emery.
Which begs the question as to why he did nothing to address the issue during his six months as Emery’s assistant.
It certainly doesn’t look as though Freddie has any answers to the biggest crisis the club has faced in years.
For Arsenal were distinctly second best to a Brighton team who won with goals from Adam Webster and Neal Maupay.
And it was no more than the visitors deserved for taking the game to a team completely shot of confidence.
Every Arsenal player looked terrified to take possession as pass after pass failed to find its intended target.
Ljungberg could hardly believe what he was watching as his team of ten senior internationals wilted in the eye of this Emirates storm.
Mesut Ozil is no more convincing under the new regime than he was under the previous one, drifting out of the action for long periods as he struggled to get out of third gear.
Top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been shunted out to the right-wing by Ljungberg’s 4-3-3 formation while Alexandre Lacazette was desperately short of support through the middle.
Lucas Torreira’s return to the starting line-up was supposed to bring some much-needed steel to the middle of the pitch and stop the opposition from playing on the counter.
Yet Arsenal still managed to concede the freedom of the Emirates to their visitors who dictated possession and carved out chance after chance against Arsenal’s rocky back four.
The last time Graham Potter was here two seasons ago, his Ostersunds team enjoyed a shock 2-1 victory in the Europa League.
Yet the Seagulls boss will take far more satisfaction from this defiant display of defensive steel and bold attacking.
The overworked Bernd Leno had already been forced into full-length saves by Aaron Connelly and Neal Maupay when Brighton deservedly took a 36th minute lead.
Pascal Gross’ corner was met with a firm header from Dan Burn and though Sokratis was able to get a block on Maupay, no-one was able to prevent Adam Webster from lashing in the loose ball.
It was only when £72million Nicolas Pepe was introduced as a half-time sub that Arsenal finally started to threaten Mat Ryan’s goal.
They levelled in the 50th minute when Lacazette’s header from Ozil’s cross looped over Ryan and dropped in at the back post.
And they thought they were ahead when David Luiz volleyed in Ozil’s 63rd minute free-kick until VAR confirmed he was a good yard offside.
But they still looked like conceding every time the ball came anywhere near to their penalty area and it was no surprise when they fell behind again ten minutes from time.
Aaron Mooy was allowed far too much time out wide to pick out Maupay with a cross which the dangerous Frenchman guided into the far corner with a delicious glancing header.
Substitute Gabriel Martinelli almost rescued a late point for Arsenal with a firm header which Ryan did well to parry.
But it wasn’t enough to spare Ljungberg that all-too familiar sound of his team being booed off by the angriest fans in football at the final whistle.
Paul Scholes might be weirdly obsessed with Ljungberg’s choice of touchline attire but the Arsenal supporters wouldn’t care if he turned out in just his Calvin Kleins if he could somehow work out a way to stop the rot.
Ljungberg was understandably bemused at criticism from the Oldham Armani for wearing a jumper for his first match in charge at the weekend.
But the one-time underwear model can’t waste his time worrying about the football fashionistas when he has such a huge job on his hands turning Arsenal into a competitive force once again.